Cutting down 25 trees costs B.C. man more than $80,000

Former city council candidate illegally dropped alder and maple in pricey Nanaimo neighbourhood

A Nanaimo businessman has been fined close to $84,000 for illegally downing trees near Departure Bay ferry terminal in summer 2016.

Jim Mercier was initially charged with more than 40 City of Nanaimo municipal bylaw offences which took place between Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2016 on a 22,000-square foot lot on White Eagle Terrace, which Mercier was considering buying at the time and has since bought. Twenty-five of those counts were confirmed, according to Judge Douglas Cowling at provincial court in Nanaimo on Thursday.

Nineteen trees were broad leaf maple trees with trunk diameters between 26-69 centimetres, said Cowling. There were also six red alders with trunks ranging from 27-34 cm in diameter. The lot was in an area with “expensive homes” between a residence and Beach Estates Park, which Cowling said isn’t a developed park. It protects a stream and has a 20-metre slope to the Departure Bay foreshore. It has been designated as a place of archaeological significance due to evidence of First Nation occupation.

Cowling said evidence indicated tree removal was primarily to enhance the view. There were concerns slope stability could be affected by the tree removal.

The cutting of the trees took place at the direction of Mercier by, what the judge gathered, was a person with professional ability.

Cowling fined Mercier to what amounted to $65,000, the property value increase due to the tree cutting, and $750 for each tree for a total of $83,750. Cowling said it was important to look at the totality of the $750 figure as opposed to the per tree figure.

The fine has to be fully paid by Sept. 1, 2020, said Cowling.

Neither Peter Behie, Mercier’s legal counsel, nor Mercier were available for comment after sentencing.

Jarrett Plonka, city legal counsel, was pleased with the ruling and said one of the primary principles of sentencing by Cowling was discouraging profits from the contravention.

“Judge Cowling imposed a $65,000 fine as a starting point and that’s to essentially ensure that Mr. Mercier doesn’t profit and has to pay a fine equivalent to the profit that he’s enjoyed from improving the value of his property,” said Plonka. “The $18,750 … the fine that can’t just account for profit, the fine also has to account for things such as denunciation and deterrence to send a message to the public that trees can’t be cut, breaching the bylaw in contravention of it without regard to the city’s bylaws.”

Plonka suggested the financial figure the court came to was well within what the city proposed as an appropriate fine.

Mercier ran in the 2017 byelection for Nanaimo city council.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Oyster River department battles Black Creek house fire

UPDATED: House suffers extensive damage, no one inside at time

Campbell River fruit tree project carries on despite pandemic

More volunteers wanted for Greenways’ initiative

Downtown storm drain repair will begin on August 10 in Campbell River

Starting Monday, drivers and pedestrians will expect minor delays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m

What does the nearly $10 million RCMP contract get the people of Campbell River?

Despite discussion around police funding, response techniques and use of force, the… Continue reading

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

U’mista Cultural Centre will host a native art contest to raise funds for artists

All artists of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent are being called to participate in the contest to be held on August 28

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read